PLANS for a new 5G phone mast, proposed to be sited next to the entrance to Apex Park in Highbridge, have been rejected by Sedgemoor District Council.

The application was submitted by Hutchison 3G UK Ltd, for a “15-metre-high monopole supporting six antennas and two transmission dishes, four equipment cabinets and development works ancillary thereto” on the grass verge in Marine Drive.

In her report on the proposal, the district council’s planning case officer said: “The proposed development will be erected within a suburban setting, upon a grass verge that forms part of the amenity space associated with the access to Apex Park - a key public recreational space that is an important asset to the local area.

“It is considered that the siting of the mast and associated equipment in such close proximity to the entrance of the park will result in a detrimental impact to its setting and would erode the quality of the visual amenity of the immediate area.”

The district council’s Parks and Open Spaces department, which oversees Apex Park, commented: “Please note our objection to the proposal for a 15-metre phone mast which would be detrimental to the visual appearance of our award-winning wildlife and leisure park.

“Existing street furniture reference is somewhat smaller than that proposed and the new equipment is not simply a column, but also features ancillary equipment such as cabinets, dishes and antennas, all of which further adds to our reason for objection based on visual impact.”

Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge Town Council also objected, “on the grounds that the proposal would be detrimental to the visual appearance of the park”.

“The new ancillary equipment - such as cabinets, dishes and antennas - all add to a negative visual impact,” the town council added in its response to the application.

“We would implore that mitigation measures were put in place, [for example] the pole was painted green, the planting of shrubs around the cabinets to minimise the visual impact, and that shrubs are maintained at the company’s expense.”

It is expected that Hutchison UK Ltd will submit another, separate, planning application, at which point the public will also be able to give their views on the telecommunications proposal.